Archive for September, 2011

I had the pleasure or pain of watching the Star Wars Holiday special. It’s one of the creepiest surreal-like things I’ve seen a long time, a long-time. Directed by Elvis Presley’s ’68 Comeback Special’s Steve Binder, the 97 minute program focuses on the family of Chewbacca waiting for the walking carpet himself coming home for’ Life Day’. However, Chewie and Han Solo are held up by the Galactic Empire.

You get to see the 70’s Wookie style version of Family Ties or modern equivalent ‘In The middle’ as Chewbacca’s wife Malla tell off their son Lumpy for pinching Wookie cookies. Lumpy looks like a cross between Teen-Wolf, Cornelius from Planet of the Apes and an Ewok. I should point out that Chewie’s father Itchy is a grey Wookie with a chilling face. This nuclear-like family doesn’t capture anything Star Wars.

Sponsored by GM motors with intermittent plugs The Holiday Special is made up of several oddly toned segments. One includes Blazing Saddles‘ Hedley Lamarr , Harvey Korman himself dressed up as a female TV cook while Chewie’s wife follows a recipe that needs more than two hands. There is a completely outlandish scene where Itchy dons on some head gear to have some kind of sensual cyber encounter with Carol Diahann reminiscent of Sly Stallone in ‘Demolition Man’. There’s a chessboard ala New Hope that has dancing holograms accompanied by eerie dreamlike music. By this time you’re thinking is this for children.
It compasses everything about 70’s bad TV, it’s looks like a game show, even the nostalgic Top’s of the Pops type special effects can’t make it more palatable. It all serves as an excuse to string together a series of musical dance numbers, celebrity cameos, including Art Carney and Bea Arthur. While Malla contacts the gang from a hidden monitor, she speaks to Mark Hamill who looks as odd as the Wookies, eyes piercing blue, nothing wrong with that but with his short blonde hair and bad make up he looks like Bowie in ‘The Man Who Fell to Earth’. Also Princes Leia, C3PO and R2D put in an appearance though Malla’s video phone.
The scenes are cringe worthy and it feels a lot longer than it actually is. The music score a watered down romanticized version of the original themes annoyingly plays throughout and I’m sure parents couldn’t wait to switch off and watch Dallas.
Surprisingly Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher grace the screen in this car wreck too. Harrison’s Han Solo is punished by having to deliver possibly the worst misplaced sounding dialogue ever in TV history., “That’s the spirit! You’ll be celebrating Life Day before you know it!” and “You’re like… family… to me,” spring to mind. Or Luke Skywalker saying “Come on Mala, let’s see a little smile. Come on…”
It could have been a bit of cheesy fun but it’s so painful, nightmarish and elusive you can’t help but feel acid trip scared. If only some horrors got the under the skin this effectively. Carrie Fisher sings the closing number (quite well) before we get drowned out by some more Wookie action and noises. The only saving grace is the animated segment which features Boba Fett and the main cast voiced by the original actors – even if Solo is drawn like Mr. Magoo and Luke’s eyes are like blue plates.
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Described fitting by film maker Chris Regan as “[an] existential vampire epic successfully crosses violent supernatural hijinks with an art-house aesthetic to produce a new take on a worn-out genre,” My production TERMINUS will have it’s UK premier at the Movie Bar Brighton on October 3rd at 7:30pm.

Based loosely on my novel Blood Hunger and featuring a few of its most alluring characters, writer/director Sean P. Parsons brings this vampire tale to life with some great visuals and moody atmosphere. Having already been shown in the USA and available State-side as a video on demand this is the first time Terminus will be shown in the UK.

 

Ellicott City a condemned paper mill, home to a vampire by the name of Anushka – a  vampire assassin haunted by lonliness and self-imposed isolation. 
Her vow to never feed on humans is tried when a chance meeting tests her resolve…
Her first bite could be your last!
The first Trailer of Terminus!
Philip FletcherHauer

Katherine DuBois

 Anushka
Stacey Jackson

Marquise
Sarah Taurchini Caelum
Ben Cunis
Jacob
Ryan Sellers
Target 2
Theo “Rick Vick” Johnson


Target 1


and Bruce Allen Dawson as the Bodyguard


 Photograph Copyright resets with their respective creators.
With Halloween closing in I covered the Halloween films that featured Donald Pleasence in the Pleasence years. Take a look at 1,2,4,5 and 6 Here. Again skiping Halloween III: Season of the Witch as it’s a stand alone story I thought it would be intresting to cover Jamie Lee Curtis’ return, demise and founder of heavy metal band White Zombie -Rob Zombie’s remakes.
 
Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)

 

20 years after the events of Halloween killings Michael Myers sets out to complete his unfinished job and kill his sister once and for all.

 

The most appealing thing about Halloween 20 Years Later is its very title and Robert Zappia’s story concept itself especially as it features the return of Laurie Strode, the heroine that started the series. It’s no secret that this instalment disregards parts 4, 5, 6 and has no tie to 3. Although it side steps the aforementioned and by default Donald Pleasence’s work, he’s there as Sam Loomis in spirit in newspaper clippings and Nancy Stephens reprises her role as his assistant Nurse Chambers.


 

It takes the action from Haddonfield placing it in a private school giving the film a different feel. Even though Laurie Strode has assumed a new identity, Keri Tate, she is still haunted by previous events unwittingly passing on her fear to her son played lethargically by Josh Hartnett.

 

Gone is the grittiness of the first and second Halloween, it’s sleeker and leaner, both in production design and direction. That said, it does feel set like at times, losing its on location feel synonymous with many of the other films. When Jamie Lee Curtis is on screen the film has weight and emotion but outside that it plays against the genre ‘rules’ with false scares, red-herrings and quip dialogue reminiscent of the Scream series courtesy of writers Robert Zappia and Matt Greenberg.

 

 


Note worthy is Adam Arkin playing Strode’s boyfriend and LL Cool J is fine as the security guard although arguably too humorous. The rest of the supporting cast are Myers fodder. There’s a nod to Psycho with a cameo by Janet Leigh real life mother of Jamie. Chris Durand’s take on the Michael/Shape is realised well, he’s both menacing yet oddly vulnerable this coupled with Curtis performance holds the film together. Jamie Lee Curtis is pretty much faultless as a troubled individual and over concerned mother.

 

 

Director Steve Miner gives an eerie edge at times with reflections, Strode’s visions and the vanishing Shape. Miner creates some interesting set pieces, Strode hiding in the chapel like hall, confronting Michael in the kitchen and the van crash. Although the kills throughout are nerve racking and well executed with good effects it also feels glossy and staged. This may possibly be due to so many slasher films over the years numbing audiences to the blood and violence.

 

Halloween: Resurrection (2002)

 

A group of students win a competition to spend a night in the house of killer Michael Myers while it’s broadcast on an Internet. However, Michael is living in a below his childhood house and the killings begin.

 

 

Continuing the continuity of H20, Resurrection takes the viewer back to Haddonfield. Halloween II director Rick Rosenthal returns with a run of the mill horror affair. It looks good and is slickly edited but disappointingly suffers from the horror trend of the day. In the vein of Scream, it has smart talking characters, packed witty quips and answers it also borrows from ogles of video feed footage horror films.

 

Busta Rhymes puts in a surprisingly entertaining performance as Freddie Harris who goes head to head with Michael, this time played by stuntman Brad Loree. Tyra Banks character Nora is a copycat Courtney Cox’s Gale Weathers and gets little screen time. Like H20 the rest of the cast are just characters cut out from countless other films and meat for Michael to dispose of. The strong dark opening with Jamie Lee Curtis’ cameo is probably the most interesting and satisfying part of the film.

 

 

While trying to appeal to the teen film goers, it becomes the trend instead of setting it, this dilutes the scare horror factor that made Halloween successful.

 

As a plain slasher it’s an adequate ride, but lacks any of the previous Halloween magic including horror and fear.

 

Halloween (2007)

 

After being committed for 17 years in a mental institution, Michael Myers escapes and immediately returns to his hometown of Haddonfield where he begins a series of killings.

 

Despite how die-hard fans feel about giving Michael a background reasoning for his actions and departing from Carpenters scary unfounded killing motivations director Rob Zombie has chosen to include lengthy scenes of Michael as a young boy. This gives weight and credence to the character, Michael’s killing of animals, family and school issues follow a realistic progression mirroring real life serial killers. It’s clear that Zombie put some effort into the screenplays back story and its conception.

 

The characters have more shades of grey than its original counterpart. What Zombie does successfully is bring the fear factor back while constructing and surpassing the grittiness of the first. That said, as the perfect suburb setting is gone and the unsavoury world created by Zombie has a lesser contrast to the murderous Michael. In essence it’s a dark hopeless world that Michael already resides in, as oppose to the quintessential small town in the original that he assaults upsetting the calm balance.

Without drawing comparisons to the original the cast is very good, although very unlikable. Malcolm McDowell gives depth to Dr. Samuel Loomis and notable is Tyler Mane’s imposing and physical Michael Myers. There’s a lot of shock for shock values sake dialogue in Zombie’s screenplay similar to Devils Rejects. Some of what he puts on screen is gory and disturbing. There are many nods to the original and the inclusion of Danielle Harris from part 4 and 5 is appealing.

 

Overall, Zombie has made the film his own visually and retains the essence of Halloween, but arguably it’s an unnecessary remake. Halloween 2007 caters for Zombie fans and is only really appealing to those who are admirers of Rob Zombies harsh and unforgiving work.

 

Halloween II (2009)

 

Laurie Strode left mentally-traumatized after the Halloween day massacre finds herself dreading the one-year anniversary of the killings, unbeknownst to her Michael Myers sets about to finish what he started.

 

Writer director Rob Zombie returns with his trademark style. There’s more vulgar dialogue, violence and mayhem. But this time it’s all the more gritty, graphic and brutal. Zombie departs from the structure in original Halloween II and very little is set in a hospital. It isn’t a remake at all and Zombie takes it into a different direction.

Dr. Loomis has changed significantly hungry for notoriety, Laurie is has become an unhinged oddball and Michael a long haired homeless man who pops on a mask now and again. Michaels Mask is synonymous with Halloween and taking it away at times is like removing Freddy’s glove. Tyler Mane is not doubt menacing and makes a great Myers.

 

There are plenty of kills but like Zombie’s Halloween, there’s just nothing to like, especially the character of Laurie Strode. It’s not actress Scout Taylor Compton fault either, to Compton’s credit and the casting director she’s refreshing non Hollywood looking, its Zombie’s alienating screenplay that’s the issue. Oddly the visions of Michael’s dead mother played by Sherri Moon are the most interesting scenes of the film even if feeling somewhat misplaced.

 

As a grungy bizarre serial killer film Halloween 2 may appeal but as a Halloween movie it falls short of meeting expectations even more so than its predecessor. This leave the future of the Halloween series on a knife edge.
 

With the film already released in the UK last year I though I’d share my thoughts on Devil’s Playground prior to it’s American State-Side release 11th October.
The world succumbs to a viral/zombie apocalypse as group of Londoners try their best to survive and are torn to protect one person that holds the cure. (Sounds suspiciously like the plot to Dead Pulse)

Mark McQueen’s direction is more than sufficient and effective coupled with ominous lighting, realistic settings and great special effects. While the ‘zombie’ supporting cast are worthy of note and the make up well designed, the free running style infected is unnecessary and distracting.
Brit actor Craig Fairbrass (Cliff Hanger) gives a typical performance as hard-man Cole. The rest of the cast are adequate, notably MyAnna Buring, but there’s not enough meat on Bart Ruspoli’s script or character development keep them busy to show any talent. The flawless Jaime Murray is sadly wasted with a little amount of screen time and even cockney favourite Danny Dyer the diamond geezer doesn’t get enough to say.
If you must draw comparisons, it’s pale against the likes of 28 days later or Dawn of Dead (2004). But to its credit Devil has a crisp atmosphere and eerie London setting.
Overall, generic, yet, a lot more watchable and entertaining than many of the DTV zombie/virus flicks that are being churned out.
Why do writers write? Whether it’s fiction or nonfiction, poetry or plays, writers use words to transport readers, inform readers or entertain readers and from the simplest blog post to the greatest novel, it’s emotionally satisfying. I did it because I had a story to tell. After a failed attempt of writing simply to satisfy what publishers thought the readers wanted I set out to write something that I would enjoy reading myself and hoped others would too. Below I’ve touched on what inspired me to write each book and what the books are about…
With Blood Hunger by default you’ll find elements of pop culture hits Twilight, True Blood, Vampire Diaries due to their source material but what I’ve set about doing with Blood Hunger is give a fresh reinvention of the vampire legend. As well as traditional folklore I’ve encompassed the spirit of Bram Stoker’s novel ‘Dracula’, Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’s novella ‘Carmilla’. The story premise is that of

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=thebredea-20&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=B0041VXTMA&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifran explorer making a discovery in Romania, dubbed the ‘Ice Prince’ find it is significant enough to put him and his girlfriend Lucia Ferrara in the media spotlight. Iliana and her sister’s journey to the United Kingdom, news that the ‘Ice Prince’ had been discovered ceases their many years of blood abstinence and they unleash a bloodthirsty terror on humankind leaving a trail of death from London to the Welsh countryside.

From the fall of the vampire and the Dracul brothers in medieval Europe to their return in the present day. Prepare yourself, their first bite will be your last! 
Also you can sink your teeth into a bloodthirsty, gruesome and vicious comic tale adaptation.
The first issue here. based on the book Blood Hunger.

With DEAD PULSE I set about to re-imagine and pay homage to George A. Romero undead. Lucio Fulci films also inspired the zombie horror adventure.

The world’s focus is on the city of Ravenswood and the once idyllic town of Farmore as platoons and scattered survivors fight the hordes of the dead, unbeknownst one of them holds the key to end the undead’s reign of mayhem.
Across the city at a body disposal plant a small group take shifts on the ‘death watch’. Their hopes hinge on the soldiers of Farmore to rescue them. But with no contact for months, no food and surrounded by the dead, have they got what it takes to survive?

With death at their door, only time can tell…

The Breathing Dead Tales encompasses both books and is only available as an eBook exclusive to Amazon. With them both read together you can see the subtext of how they are ‘linked’ ever so slightly.
I hope you enjoy the books as much as I did writing them. Please leave a review wherever possible and spread the word. Thanks

With Halloween closing fast there’s no better time to revisit some Halloween films, in this case the Donald Pleasence (O.B.E) ones, the Sam Loomis narrative.

Halloween Part III: Season of the Witch departs from the Michael ‘Mask’ Myers storyline and is a standalone film. Halloween H20 (Twenty Years later) saw the return of Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode but ignores part 4, 5 and 6. Needless Scream-alike Halloween Resurrection ironically killed the franchise, annihilating what was set up in H20. Then came Rob Zombie’s remakes. All of which I’ll share my thoughts on over some pumpkin pie in the future.

For now here’s a few ponderings on the films that cemented amoungst other great roles Donald Pleasence’s place horror history, introducing him to a new generation while in the process making William Shatner masks famous, turning them into the stuff of nightmares.

Halloween (1978)

A psychotic child institutionalised after committing several murders now as an adult escapes and goes on a mindless killing rampage. Can his doctor stop him?
John Carpenter’s 1978 [retrospectively] textbook horror slasher film is perhaps the most a perfect horror film, arguably Jaws (1975) will always have a plastic shark. What makes this different to many other babysitter stalker films is the production value, Carpenters direction and score that reeks of dread. Perfect leads include, heavy weight Donald Pleasence as Doctor Loomis and ever reliable Jamie Lee Curtis (Laurie Strode) as they try to out wit an escaped psychotic murderer.

Halloween is a well produced basic, yet essential horror that contains very little nudity or blood for this type of genre. What maybe a little tame for gore hungry audiences of today still remains a defining archetype horror film, as without the masked Michael Myers there wouldn’t be many of the horror’s there are out now.

A must see for any horror fan.

Halloween II (1981)

Laurie Strode is rushed to the hospital after the killing spree of Michael Myers. While Dr. Loomis hunts the streets for Myers the killer has already begin another murderous rampage at Haddonfield Hospital.

To the writer/producer team John Carpenter and Debra Hill’s credit it picks up where the first left off giving it a nice air of continuity. Halloween 2 is a basic killing spree sequel that builds on the suspenseful original with a revelation of who Strode really is but more so adds a lot of bloody deaths. That said, there’s little story and literally goes from one death to the next.

Jamie Lee Curtis plays the shell shocked ex-babysitter in distress perfectly although there is little room for her character to develop due to the scripts time scale. Donald Pleasence is as loopy and obsessed with Michael as ever and is the weight in this limited event. Dick Warlock plays Michael Myers and does a good job especially when taking a bullet or two. Although all the extras are Michael fodder they do enough to keep you interested.

Veteran Dean Cundey’s cinematography is the star of the show. Despite some choppy editing, possibly caused by Carpenters re-shoots and drawn out closing, Rick Rosenthal direction is more than satisfactory encompassing some suspense in the dark and ominous lit hospital.

Overall it builds on the unstoppable killing machine film concept and while not perfect it’s a good sequel to a series that arguably should have finished there.

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)

10 years after the events of the first & second Halloween Michael Myers escapes and returns to Haddonfield to hunt down his niece.

There’s a lot going on in this instalment that goes back to the roots of Halloween ignoring part three. Part 4 is grander, a police station is wiped out and locals turn vigilante. Teenage shenanigan’s go on that are more synonymous with slasher films that weren’t really present in part 2.

Despite being the fourth in a series and putting aside what the critics say Halloween Return of Michael Myers is a very strong entry.

It’s strength is not only Donald Pleasence’s great performance, take a look at the early gas station scene but it’s the likability of both Ellie Cornell and Danielle Harris’ characters. Thanks to Alan B. McElroy’s writing every character is fleshed out more than usual for the time and genre.

Harris is a good child actress and gives Jamie an air of realism. Whereas Cornell gives depth to Rachel’s moral issues and concerns. The supporting cast are all more than adequate including Beau Starr as Sheriff Ben Meeker. George P. Wilbur’s take on the Shape/Michael is debatably the best portrayal of killer in the series.

Credit should go to director Dwight H. Little and legendary producer Akkad for capturing the feel and the look of the first two instalments. Little makes good use of the lighting and music building some great tension, notably the rocking chair, rooftop scene and truck escape. The surprise ending fittingly echoes the first and 4 has the right mix of horror, action and suspense without the cringe worthy cheese that come with most copycat slasher pictures of the time. An underrated guilty pleasure.

Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)

Michael survives the shootings of Sheriff Meeker and his men and returns on October 31st with a vengeance.

In the tradition of Halloween II, Halloween 5 picks up where 4 left off then quickly moves forward a year. Danielle Harris plays Jamie niece of Michael once again and this time she is traumatised by previous events. Again Harris puts on a good acting show especially for a child actor as she seems genuinely haunted and harassed by Michael and her visions.

Due to the writers Bitterman, Jacobs and Othenin-Girard’s prerogative Ellie Cornell returns briefly as Rachel and is sadly missed for the majority of the film, which is a shame given that she set out good foundations for her character in 4. Donald Pleasence once again is Loomis and gives the film some credibility and weight. He’s obsessed to a point of madness putting pressure on the young child which is disturbing in itself. Don Shanks this time is Michael/The Shape and has an imposing presence, the car scene when he wears a different mask is particularly unnerving. He’s both subtle and brutal.

Five departs from the slasher flick formula adding a cult, supernatural and telekinetic physic connection that includes a mysterious man in black. Obligatory shower scene, teenage girls, cars and boyfriends cheapens it towards Friday the 13th territory. Although the story is uneven director Dominique Othenin-Girard and cinematographer Robert Draper give the film its own unique look with much of it shot in the daylight. It adds an air of uneasiness but lacks the ominous atmosphere of the 1; 2 and 4 until very late in the latter half.

The pacing of Revenge is off as the film is very muddled with a weak narrative linked by a series of false scares, misidentification and a few bloody killings. There’s an issue with the character of Tina (Wendy Kaplan) who for a short time inherits the role of Jamie’s protector. Kaplan lacks the credibility of Curtis or Cornell and the script doesn’t help her performance either as she aimlessly if forced to go from one scene to the next.

Even Alan Howarth’s score or the interesting spring a trap closing can’t make up for the padded middle segment. Sadly all the tension and suspense is crammed into the finale and retreads ideas from the forth, notably a Police Station assault. If Tina, the psychic link and the Man in Black had not been included the film may have perhaps turned out better leaving Loomis, Myers and Jamie being the focal point. This may have treaded old ground but it may have made Revenge more palatable.

It has some appealing moments mainly between Pleasence and Shanks or Harris and Pleasence but the scenes are few and far between.

Halloween (6): The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)

After Jamie Lloyd daughter of Laurie Strode gives birth, Michael Myers sets out to find his niece’s baby.

From the elaborate opening of an older Jamie giving birth and her frantic escape, Curse’s focus shifts from the menacing unstoppable killer slightly in place of a wider underground cult theme, hinted at in the previous instalment.

Myers obsessed Tommy Doyle (child survivor from the first film) played by Paul Rudd is fine in a main role. Minus scar makeup aged Pleasence does his best with the material he’s been given and plays the retired doctor Loomis superbly despite his age and weakened voice he still steals every scene. Actress Marianne Hagan’s Kara Strode is slightly wasted, fleeting in and out like her son Danny and many of the other characters. George P. Wilbur (who played Michael in Revenge) returns once again as The Shape with good screen presence and movement.

Anyone unfamiliar with the series may have a difficult time following the unnecessary convoluted story. The screenplay hints at a town moving on but doesn’t build on the theme, nor expand on Michael coming home. It has some interesting character dynamics but its cluttered like its predecessor with many new elements that the audience has to buy into including more characters to accept and warm to.

Alan Howarth and Paul Rabjohns’ music is edgy enough especially when coupled with the original theme. Director Joe Chappelle delivers elaborate deaths and Curse is well filmed with sharp editing, flashing images and slick dialogue but it is far removed from the simplistic, primal original concept.

Apparently it was a troubled shoot and many alternative scenes were shot, this may explain its unevenness. These issues spawned the notorious Producers Cut. Nevertheless, it’s just as inconsistent as this version. Curse suffers like the fifth entry injecting the needless cultist sect sub-plot, mysterious symbols and a physic kid. That said, even taken with a pinch of salt it’s still unsatisfying and you really feel the series has lost its way.

Worth seeing if only for Donald Pleasence’s last performance.

Taking some horror time out, what seems like a long, long time ago I opened up my Star Wars Blu–ray Saga set expecting a cardboard fold out like the Alien set, however, I was surprised to find them (the UK release at least) stacked like a book of blue plastic. From the off I should state it’s not the originals it’s the reworked 2004 with ‘some’ tweaks.
There’s some nice are work on each of the discs and as a bonus behind a little booklet with some more nice artwork I found concealed a Limited Edition Sentiype that contains a unique 35mm film. The film frame is mounted on postcard (right) that features the artwork from the Star Wars Blu-ray box. The Senitype is numbered for authenticity. A nice surprise as I didn’t realise it came with the set that was ordered.
Limited Edition Sentiype
The biggest problem with the set is not the 2004 updated effects (hated by diehard fan boys of the original) still light-years better than the 1997 release. But the real dilemma is which do you watch first? IV- VI then I-III. Mix it up a little as flash backs and forwards watching I,IV,II, V and so on or watching the documentaries first then the films. Oh my I am a Star Wars geek after all.
The menus look great and the bonus discs are broken up into films and sections, with headings – Hoth, Tatoonie, Endor and so on. Make sure you push left on the remote as it’s easy to think there’s no more, but the menus revolve round revealing more sections. In those sections are the deleted scenes, concept galleries, documentaries and so forth.
Even though there are three discs of extras what I would say is hold on to your original DVD’s if you have them and are a fan of extras as not everything has been shifted over. The Blu-ray is not a definitive collection which is a shame given that the majority of extras are of standard DVD quality. I don’t think it would have hurt to slap everything on.
The package
The first bonus disc covers I Phantom Menace – III Revenge of the Sith, the second New Hope – VI Return of the Jedi and the third disc includes spoofs, a 2010 doc about Empire, Dewbacks and more. Interviews are short and end abruptly. In the Star Wars there’s a handful of deleted interesting scenes including Biggs and an unknown male and female with Luke debatably drunk. You can’t help feel sorry for those actors in the deleted takes who may have gone onto do other things if they’d been included. There’s a very short snippet of an old woman on a dusty road and black a white rough cut of the Cantina that includes Han kissing a woman. If included this would have added three more women to George’s at the time predominantly male world of Star Wars.
There’s a lot of new stuff notably the aforementioned Empire documentary with Lucas, Kasdan and Kershner (R.I.P) , the fly through the Lucas ranch and archives are quite insightful. There are tones of documentaries that give you a broad insight into the making of the Saga over the three discs.
In any case I waited for the sun to go down to avoid glare on the screen and popping in Star Wars I got quite excited. The picture is great and new details are uncovered that could not been seen in other formats. Jabba still looks odd but sits into the scene better and to be honest his inclusion solidifies Hans motivation to leave in the final act. The Han who shoot’s first is corrected and doesn’t look out of place. There’s some new changes to this Blu-Ray notably R2-D2 hiding further behind newly inserted rocks, Obi-Wan’s Krayt Dragon call and some audio changes in the Yavin battle – none of which spoil the fun.
R2-D2 change
However, picture wise the Tatooine scenes are a mixed bag and a good as can be expected but Star Wars really kicks into eye-popping gear on the Millennium Falcon and the Death Star with vibrant colour, great depth and contrast. There are still some inconsistencieswhen Luke is using the lightsaber but the training laser ball now looks spot on. You notice how worn and dirty the Falcon is dispelling that everything is glossy in the world of Lucas. That said, the Death Star is pristine, reflections on the board table, shinny floors, glowing and flashing lights. The scene with old Ben switching of the tractor-beam, humming noises and green lighting are humbly exceptional. As too is the duel the lightsabers now corrected. The whole rescue to the final explosion has never looked so good, probably better than in 1977 theatre.

Watching Star Wars on Blu-ray felt fresh, it took me off autopilot, I found myself laughing out loud at some of the dialouge and action along with my children and enjoying Star Wars a lot more than I had in a long time. For some reason Star Wars had turned into a journey that you do so often you can’t remember the journey itself and Blu-ray injected something new. (and I’m not a Lucas film employee!)
Biggs where are the women?
The best thing is that my children want to watch them and I’m sure that their children and their children’s children will too. Despite the changes to Star Wars it has never looked so good and until something better than Blu-ray comes along this is it geeks.
Now I just have to decide which one to watch again next.

There’s an easter egg of sorts. ‘easy to miss. It’s a Boba Fett cartoon from the ‘Holiday Special’
1. Go to Disc 8, Episode V
2. Go to Pursued By The Imperial Fleet
3. Go to Collection
4. Go to Boba Fett Prototype Costume
5. Watch “First Look”

Watching the Boba Fett cartoon from the 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special, it’s clear that when Lucas said he’d changed the original trilogy editions because he couldn’t do things at the time and had always intended the additions he wasn’t doing a Pinocchio. For example, the flying searching droids that aid the Stormtroopers which appear in the special editions are also are present in the 1978 cartoon. Conforming that Lucas wasn’t just adding things on a whim. Kudos to the beard.

Picture notes:

Phantom Menace – while the picture quality is adequate it lacks clarity especially in some shots on Tatoonie. New CGI Yoda looks impressive, with a tone and look more true to Empire than what’s offered in still the excellent incarnation in II and III. (As a side note in the Naboo forest and in the desert Ewan still looks particularly odd with his ever changing hair and weight.)

Attack of the Clones – fairs a lot better than PM but at times the effects around the live characters leave a glowing blur.

Revenge of the Sith – excellent clarity, it looks the crispest of the bunch most likely due to lessons learned on the first two and that it was shot digitally.

New Hope – as mentioned Tatoonie segments differ from shot to shot but is excellent while in space. Music queues and sound are fantastic.

Empire Strikes back – as well as can be expected. Details are brought out for the first time.

Return of the Jedi – oddly the worst of the of the bunch, some scenes look mucky with a lot of noise that lack clarity. That’s said, the briefing scene amongst others look really good.

Alongside the launch of Oxicomics.com today the first issue of Blood Hunger the comic became available for download.
Artist D. Fane re-imagines Blood Hunger with his vivid style of Tim Burton inspired artwork.
Sink your teeth into a bloodthirsty, gruesome and vicious comic tale. An explorer makes a discovery in Romania, dubbed the ‘Ice Prince’ find it is significant enough to put him and his girlfriend Lucia Ferrara in the media spotlight. From the fall of the vampire and the Dracul brothers in medieval Europe to their return in the present day.
Prepare yourself, their first bite will be your last!
Get your blood stained hands on the first issue here.
based on the book Blood Hunger.

Follow @oxicomics and @amesmonde on twitter.

Thundercats was original conceived in 1983 but didn’t hit the screens until 1985/86, it fittingly became a cult TV hit, it was faster paced and sleeker than He-Man and fairs slightly better in retrospective, spawning a tonne of merchandising like it’s counterpart. An update or film version have been arguably long overdue.
The old crew
There’s no talking Snarf in the latest version but the major difference with the Thundercats 2011 is the setting, there’s no 3rd earth, it’s Thundera that is in a Planet of the Apes sort of way with flashbacks thoughout. There’s glimpses of Star Wars, Stargate and other sci-fi, but it borrows from the best. The characters dynamics, look and their relationships have been slightly tweaked. The mains given a more mature edge that allows exploration of conflicting divergences. Those familiar with the original will recognise new incarnations of reworked sub characters usually the antagonists.

New cool cats

Thundercats 2011 is reminiscent of He-man more so than its 1985 predecessor due to Thundera’s Eternia-like feel and borrows from plenty from the recent Lord of the Rings trilogy especially in look during battle scenes including the civilians going underground. That aside, the animation, stories and dialogue are extremely entertaining and there are plenty of nods to the original series. It also includes a cameo from the original Lion-o voice actor Larry Kenney.
However, don’t be mistaken it is different and not in a bad way, strikingly the episodes are very emotionally charged even more so than the original series. There are a few main characters that are ommited in the first fistful of episodes but that’s not to say then may not grace the screen in later outings.
To really enjoy Thundercats 2011 most will have to put aside the cartoon they fell in love with. This is a darker distinctly styled incarnation yet thankfully it stays true to the original spirit of the Thundercats.
Sometimes you have to test yourself and give something back to the film community. It had been many years since I thought about writing any sort of screenplay. I’d been badly burned by ‘development hell’ and the frustration it brought, and then the carpet pulled was pulled up from underneath me. I was younger and took things a little too much to heart and thought less about the business and more about creativity and didn’t consider how they fitted together.
 
After writing character profiles and story outlines I haven’t and will not tackle the screen adaptation of Blood Hunger and have left it to other talented writers. This will give a fresh perceptive on the story and characters. Sometimes you have to let your creation breathe a little and allow it to be looked after by others.
 
As with anything in life you’ve got to face those demons and get back on the horse. So I came up with a little idea, tinkered a little, drank some, ate some, tinkered a little more and started small with ‘Scarlet Chess’, a 10-15 minute short, two characters, two locations. A ground thriller/horror that becomes surreal towards the end. The premise is that a psychologist commences their final appointment of the day. As the session proceeds a series of mind games ensue. As darkness arrives their client may infact be the last patient they see… Ever.
 
The Scarlet Chess script is available to the right filmmaker(s), from producer to director, as a festival entry, actor/director showcase or for anything that will allow filmmakers to implement their skills without having to start with a blank page. There’s also a Hollywood niche there. If you are interested in making this project please drop me a note with the Subject as ‘Scarlet Chess’ and your brief filmaking history.

Contact me via twitter @amesmonde